Tagged: Rob Refsnyder

The Yankees beat the Orioles 5-2 in the series finale to prevent being swept

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Michael Pineda – Yankees

The 5-2 win that the Yankees had on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore over the Orioles was their most important win of the season. Their win prevented them from being swept by the Orioles, who have the second wild card spot, and improved the Yankees deficit to 3.5 games.

The Yankees have a 70-65 record before Monday’s game are are half a game up on Kansas City Royals, who are 70-66. The Houston Astros are currently two games behind the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers are tied with the Orioles for the second wild card spot.  An offensive outburst was needed since the team had not scored a run in the first two games of the series against the Orioles.

“You can’t afford to lose three in a row to these guys,” Girardi said. “We know they play really well in this building. We lost a tough one (Saturday) night. To be able to bounce back is important. It keeps us alive.”

The starting lineup had five rookies in it but the veterans were the ones who drove in all five of the team’s runs.

In the first inning, Chase Headley’s single to left scored Brett Gardner and then backup catcher Austin Romine hit a single to left that scored Headley and Rob Refsnyder. In the third inning, Headley’s infield single to third scored Refsnyder and then the Yankees added an insurance run with Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. The Yankees had six hits in this game, which equals the amount of hits that they had in the previous two games combined.

Refsnyder was 1-2 with two runs scored after getting into his first game since rosters expanded on September 1. He spent the last few weeks with the Triple-A RailRiders, but he now has five hits in his last 10 at-bats with four runs scored.

Chase Headley, who had two big RBI in the first inning, is now 9-24 (.375) with one homer and six RBI in his last seven games. He has performed very well for the Yankees since the first month and a half of the season.

The bullpen really stepped up for the Yankees since the didn’t allow any runs after Michael Pineda was taken out of the game after four innings. In his four innings pitched he threw 87 pitches and allowed five hits, two walks and two runs. Throwing 87 pitches in only four innings is much more than normal.

Luis Severino came in next and continued his dominance as a relief pitcher. He pitched two innings while walking two batters, striking out two, and not allowing a hit. He has really performed well since he has been able to concentrate on his plus fastball and slider while not having to worry about throwing a third pitch (change-up).

Severino has surrendered only one hit in the 40 batters he has faced in relief this season. He has thrown 11.1 innings as a relief pitcher this season and has not allowed an earned run while striking out 13 batters and walking five. That is outstanding and could be a sign that his best role going forward could be as a relief pitcher and not as a starter since he does not really trust his third pitch.

The four other Yankee relief pitchers combined to allow one hit and strike out four. Dellin Betances pitched the final 1.1 innings, after not having appeared in a game since August 31, and picked up his 8th save. He is firing on all cylinders right now since he has pitched in 10 games since August 10, 11.2 innings, and has allowed only one earned run while limiting the opposition to four hits. He has also struck out 18 batters and only walked four in that 10 game span.

The Yankees play a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays from Monday to Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees need to at least win two out of three to stay in the race. It will be a challenging series as Toronto is in first place in the AL East with a 77-59 record.

The Yankees had a season-high 20 hits in their 9-0 win over the White Sox

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Masahiro Tanaka – ESPN

The Yankees played well in all phases of the game on Tuesday night in Chicago in beating the White Sox 9-0. Masahiro Tanaka had a bounce back performance as he did not allow a run in 7.2 innings pitched after giving up six runs in six innings in his previous start.

Tanaka allowed six hits, one walk and struck out six batters. He recorded nine ground ball outs, 13 fly ball outs and was taken out of the game after throwing 103 pitches. He pitched like an ace against the White Sox and was taken out after recording two outs in the 8th because Joe Girardi said that about 100 pitches was his limit. His ERA is now down to a solid 3.12 and he probably needed a few more one or two run games to be an All-Star like 2014.

The Yankees offense did most of their damage off of White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who saw his ERA rise from 4.24 to 4.50 after allowing six runs (five earned) on 12 hits and two walks. Carlos Beltran, who is 39 years old and was selected to his ninth All-Star team on Tuesday night, hit a single to right to drive in Rob Refsnyder in the second for the team’s first run. Later in the second inning Brett Gardner scored on an error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.

It is a great accomplishment for Beltran to be selected to another All-Star team especially after the way he started last season. Beltran has been the team’s best offensive player in the first half, and the Yankees would not nearly have the 41-42 record without his .302 average, 17 doubles, 19 homers, 54 RBIs and .571 slugging percentage.

He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame after he retires based on his postseason success and the fact that he has more than 400 homers (411), almost 1,500 RBIs (1,497), 2,537 hits and 311 steals. Also, when he hit his 400th homer earlier this season he became only the fourth switch-hitter to hit that many homers. (Mark Teixeira recently became the 5th  switch-hitter to hit 400 homers.)

In the third inning, Chase Headley hit a homer to drive in Starlin Castro for his seventh round-tripper of the season. He has really turned it around at the plate in the 1.5 months. In the fourth inning, Teixeira’s double scored Beltran, and in the fifth, the Yankees hit their second homer of the game. Austin Romine’s blast to left center made the score 6-0 and was what led to a relief pitcher coming in for Rodon.

The Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth as Refsnyder’s double scored Headley and Aaron Hicks‘s double to deep center scored Refsnyder. Refsnyder continued his impressive season at the plate as his two hits increased his average to .288 and he now has nine RBIs and a .354 on-base percentage in 73 at-bats.

Hicks went 1-4 and has improved in the last three games after struggling before that. He has four hits in his last 11 at-bats after previously not having a hit in 19 at-bats. Hicks’s defense is much better than his offense but this recent stretch could be a sign of him being more consistent and showing his ability.

The Bronx Bombers recorded a season-high 20 hits, which helped them move to within one-game of .500. According to James Smyth, the only two other times since 1940 that the Yankees have had 20 hits and pitched a shutout were in 1977 against Toronto Blue Jays and in 1997 against the Minnesota Twins.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were the two other All-Star selections for the Yankees. This will be Betances’s third consecutive season going to the All-Star Game, and it is Miller’s first time being named an All-Star.

Betances said after yesterday’s game that he thought that Miller deserved to be an All-Star last season when he had a 100 strikeouts, only 20 walks and an impressive 2.04 ERA. Miller added after the game that he is looking forward to having Betances with him so that they can soak it in together and so that he will be able to ask him questions about the experience.

They both deserved to be selected after their outstanding first three months, and Betances has the most strikeouts among relievers and Miller is in second place. Miller has a 1.47 ERA with 66 strikeouts and only six walks in 36.2 innings while Betances has a 2.63 ERA with 74 strikeouts and only nine walks in 41 innings.

Chicago is currently 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the race for the second wild card spot. With a win tonight the Yankees will get back to .500 again and win the series against the White Sox before closing out the first half in Cleveland against the Indians. The Yankees will have to hit well and pitch well if they are going to win the series against the red-hot Indians.

Betances, Miller and Chapman pitched three perfect innings as the Yankees beat the Twins

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Masahiro Tanaka – ESPN

The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, at Yankee Stadium on Friday night to get back to .500 (36-36). They have gone 2-2 in their last four games but the previous time that they were .500 before they were 34-34 the Yankees went on to lose four out of five games.

The Yankees will look to win the next two games against the Twins to extend the winning streak to four games and give them momentum heading into the series against the Texas Rangers. Minnesota has the worst record in all of baseball so it is important that the Bronx Bombers take advantage of playing an opponent that they are better than.

Joe Girardi’s ideal scenario happened in this game as Masahiro Tanaka pitched six innings and kept the Yankees in the game, which led to the Big Three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman closing out the game while not allowing a hit.

Minnesota committed three errors, which helped Tanaka leave the game with a 4-3 lead. Carlos Beltran hit a double to left to score Brett Gardner and then Alex Rodriguez singled to left to score Beltran to tie the score at two. The Yankees scored two more runs in the fourth off of a sacrifice fly by Austin Romine and a RBI single to left by Rob Refsnyder.

Refsnyder, who will likely not be playing first as much with Mark Teixeira coming off the disabled list on Saturday, is hitting 6 for 17 (.353 with four runs scored, two doubles and two RBIs in his last five games. His average is an impressive .286 in 56 at-bats this season, which proves that he really knows how to produce offensively when given the opportunity.

Tanaka ended his start with his sixth quality start in his past seven. He allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. He also had a higher swing and miss percentage than most starting pitchers. Tanaka had allowed two runs or less in five of his previous six starts, but he was able to make pitches when he needed to in this one.

“Tanaka has the ability to pitch and get big outs when he needs them,” Joe Girardi said.

Aaron Hicks, who was playing against his former team, hit a solo home run with one out in the 8th to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. His homer landed in about the second row in left field. That was his first right-handed homer of the year and third homer overall. He now has a .310 average with two RBIs in his last 11 games.

“I am feeling good on both sides,” Hicks said. “I feel like as the season goes on my at-bats are getting better.” He was hitting .205 on June 12 and his average is now up to .217 and he has at least one hit in six of the last seven games he has started.

Tanaka got Kurt Suzuki to ground into a double play to end the sixth inning in what ended up being his last batter because Betances was ready to come into the came with the Yankees leading. Betances had a 10-pitch inning in the seventh, and he got Robbie Grossman to strike out on a nasty curve that bounced before getting to the plate.

Miller pitched the 8th inning and came into the game having struck out 50 percent of the batters he had faced. That is an outstanding ratio and only two relief pitchers have done that before. His fastball and slider combo worked to perfection in the eighth as he retired the side in order and struck out the dangerous Brian Dozier to lower his ERA to 1.14.

Aroldis Chapman struck out the first two batters on six pitches and all of the pitches were above 100 mph. He would strikeout out the side on a 90 mph off speed pitch. He threw a circle change that completely froze Suzuki to end the game.

In the ninth inning, Chapman threw 10 pitches that were 101 mph or faster and then his 11th pitch was 90 mph. There is basically not another relief pitcher in baseball who could have 11 consecutive pitches like the ones that Chapman had.

“They are going to have their lumps but I feel pretty good about them,” Girardi said about the Big Three.

In 10 games Betances, Miller and Chapman have appeared in together before this game they had a combined 1.48 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Those numbers are even more impressive after Friday’s game.

The Yankees play their next 16 games until the All-Star break against teams outside of the AL East, which is a positive for the Yankees since they are 10-17 against AL East opponents this season. Saturday’s game will be at 1:05 p.m., and Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees. He will look to rebound from allowing three runs on one homer and six hits in 5.1 innings in his last start.

Michael Pineda’s best start of the season allowed him to keep his spot in the rotation

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Michael Pineda – ESPN

The Yankees were able to end their three-game losing streak with their 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers in Detroit on Thursday night. They previously lost three consecutive games in Toronto where they scored a total of only three runs.

Michael Pineda got the start during this makeup game from the beginning of the season and he definitely pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. General Manager Brian Cashman talked before the game about demoting him from the rotation if had another subpar start. Going into last night’s game, Pineda’s 6.92 ERA was the worst ERA of any pitcher who had thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

However, in this game, he pitched like he is capable of as he allowed one earned run in 5.2 innings pitched. He recorded an impressive eight strikeouts, allowed seven hits and didn’t walk a single Tiger. He has been limiting the walks and piling up the strikeouts most of the season, but he has struggled mightily in the first inning and with the long ball and with allowing minor issues to turn into multiple runs.

This game was different for Pineda compared to what had happened to him in many previous starts. He struck out Cameron Maybin to begin the game, but then allowed back-to-back hits to J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. However, this time he didn’t allow those runners to score since he was able to get Victor Martinez to hit into a double play to end the frame. Proving how much the opening frame has been a problem for Pineda is that 36 percent of the runs that he has allowed this season have come in the first inning (15 of the 42 earned runs).

He allowed more hits (7) than innings pitched but he managed to limit the damage to only one earned run. His slider was a strength tonight – generating 13 whiffs with the slider tonight, good for a 40.6% rate. When his slider is on it is a sign that Pineda is pitching well. What is so frustrating about Pineda is that last season on Mother’s Day he had 16 strikeouts and allowed only one run to the Orioles and this season he has now allowed two runs or less in a start five times, which proves his potential.

However, what has led to his ERA being 6.41 in the beginning of June is that he has given up five runs or more five times (with one start where he allowed three runs). Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild hope and need him to be more consistent than he has shown because he has been by far the worst pitcher in the rotation.

Last season he ended the campaign with a 4.37 ERA but he was able to truly show what he is capable of in the 2014 season. He missed about a month and a half due to injury but was able to have an outstanding 1.89 ERA in 13 starts. He had 59 strikeouts and seven walks, which is a very good strikeout to walk ratio, and he allowed two runs or less in 12 of his 13 starts.

He has the ability to be a No. 2 type starter. Thursday’s start could be the one that leads to him having sustained effectiveness similar to what he showed in 2013, which was his first healthy season as a Yankee after being traded to the team before the 2012 season. They will need Pineda to pitch well to have a chance of getting back in the race in the AL East.

It appeared that the Yankees would win easily as they had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Yankees exploded for four runs in the seventh on a Rob Refsnyder RBI single that scored Chase Headley, an RBI single by Aaron Hicks that scored Austin Romine and a triple to deep right by leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury that scored Refsnyder and Hicks.

However, in this game, the trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, which has been extremely reliable when all pitching in the same game, was not during the seventh through ninth innings. But they were able to luckily limit the damage to three total runs, which led to the Yankees escaping Detroit with a win.

Betances struck out three in his 1.1 innings but he allowed an RBI double to make the score 5-2. Miller, who still has a very low 1.25 ERA, walked two batter in the eighth and gave up an RBI double. Chapman was really able to get out of trouble in the ninth since he loaded the bases with no outs and then got J.D. Martinez to hit into a double play, which scored the Tigers fourth and final run.

Refsnyder, who has gone back and forth from Triple-A Scranton this season, should stay with the Yankees. They would not have won the game without him since he scored the team’s first run in addition to scoring and driving in a run in the seventh. He is now hitting .400 in 10 at-bats this season and is valuable off of the bench because he produces offensively and can play second, third and outfield.

The Yankees, who are now 25-28 and 6.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox (32-22) for first place in the AL East, will begin a three-game series in Baltimore against the second place Orioles (30-22) on Friday night. It will be important that the team continues to get the offensive production that they did on Thursday during the series in Baltimore.

 

Masahiro Tanaka pitched effectively in his first start of spring training

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Masahiro Tanaka – ESPN

The Yankees lost their spring training game on Sunday in Clearwater against the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, but Masahiro Tanaka pitched well in his first game action of the exhibition season.

Tanaka was not perfect but was effective against the Phillies. In his two innings pitched, Tanaka did not allow a run, recorded two strikeouts while allowing two hits and a walk. He was still finding his control based on his two walks, but he was able to use his movement and his array of plus pitches to not allow any of the three runners to score.

A scout who was in the stands during Sunday’s game said that Tanaka’s fastball was 87-88 in the first inning, got up to 90-91 in the second inning and his slider and splitter were both effective. It is a positive that he was able to increase his velocity in the second inning and that his slider and splitter showed good movement.

“His feel for pitching, command and control were excellent,” the scout said.

In the second inning, with runners on first and third, Rob Refsnyder, who is learning how to play third so that he can back-up the position, made an outstanding play to start a double play. With runners on first and third and two outs, Tanaka was able to throw a slider to strikeout David Lough. The righty was pleased with his performance.

“Pretty satisfied (with) how I pitched out there,” Tanaka said. “… For me also, just to see how I feel the next day (is) important. Other than that, mechanics is one of things I’m aware of. Also, just being able to hit my spots.”

In 2015, according to Brooks Baseball, he relied primarily on his (elite) splitter (88mph) and slider (84mph), while also mixing in his four-seam fastball (93mph), cutter (90mph) and curve (77mph). His splitter is his most effective pitch. His splitter generates more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ splitters. His slider has a 12-6 movement, which leads to more fly balls than other pitchers’ sliders and his cutter results in more flyballs than that of other cutters and has slight above average velocity, according to Brooks Baseball.

It was an important sign that he was able to hold the Phillies scoreless because two weeks after after he pitched for the Yankees during their loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card Game, Tanaka underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. This was his first major step towards proving that he is recovered from the surgery. Going into Sunday’s game, manager Joe Girardi wanted to see how Tanaka would command the strike zone.

After finishing last season, which was his second season with the Yankees after coming over from Japan, having pitched 154 innings (24 starts) with a 3.51 ERA, an outstanding 0.99 WHIP, 139 strikeouts, only 27 walks, 12 wins and a .221 opponents batting average, his goal is to be able to significantly increase his workload this season.

“The goal is to go 200 innings, and I think that the important part is to be healthy enough to pitch throughout the season,” Tanaka said.

In his rookie season, in 2014, Tanaka was the first Yankees rookie to win 12 games by the All-Star break, which helped lead to him being selected to the All-Star Game as a reserve. Tanaka and Dellin Betances were the first Yankee rookie pitchers to be selected to the All-Star Game since Spec Shea in 1947. He made 20 starts in 2014 (136.1 innings) and finished the season with an excellent 2.77 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.3 WAR, 141 strikeouts, 21 walks, 13 wins, three complete games and one shutout.

The 27-year-old, like other members of the Yankees rotation, needs to prove that he can stay healthy the whole season. In his rookie season, he experienced discomfort in his right arm after his loss to the Cleveland Indians on July 8. This led to him being placed on the disabled list the next day due to elbow inflammation. An MRI revealed that he had a partially torn UCL, and doctors recommended that he get a PRP shot and rest for six weeks instead of having Tommy John surgery.

After Tanaka’s six weeks of rest and rehab, he would only make two more starts that season. He returned on September 21 winning his 13th game of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays, and in his final start of the season he allowed seven runs in 1.2 innings against the Boston Red Sox. On April 28 of last season, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list due to forearm and wrist soreness, and would make his next start on June 3 against the Seattle Mariners. He pitched seven innings and recorded nine strikeouts while leading the team to a 3-1 win.

The Yankees need him to be a workhorse at the top of the rotation this season. When he is using his splitter with confidence to go along with the rest of his pitches he is one of the best pitchers in the American League. Tanaka pitched well to end last season as he allowed three runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts and allowed two runs or less in three of his last five starts.

Girardi will likely be very gradual in increasing his pitches per outing during spring training to try to keep him healthy and durable. There is no need for him to be overworked during exhibition games, and he just needs to be able to have command of all of his pitches so that he can dominate the opposition during the regular season. If he does indeed throw 200 innings then that will increase the team’s chances of making it back to the postseason and it will put less pressure on the rest of the rotation.

The Yankees need Masahiro Tanaka to be a Hiro during tonight’s wild card game against the Houston Astros

Masahiro Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees will play their wild card playoff game tonight at 8:00 p.m. against the Astros at Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees win then they will play the Kansas City Royals (95-67) in the American League Division Series since the Royals had the best record in the American League.

Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), who allowed four runs in five innings against the Red Sox in his last start on September 30, will take the mound for the Yankees to begin tonight’s crucial game. Tanaka’s sub-par performance during his previous start might have been because he was rusty after not having pitched in the previous 12 days. Tanaka will have to keep the ball down in the zone and have his plus splitter tonight against the Astros.

Tanaka is the team’s ace and in his three starts before September 30, he allowed three runs combined while striking out 21 and only walking one batter. On September 13 against the powerful Toronto Blue Jays lineup, who scored the most runs in all of baseball, he threw a shutout in seven innings while recording seven strikeouts and no walks. The Yankees will need Tanaka to pitch with that kind of effectiveness tonight and not pitch like he did during his previous start against the Astros when Houston scored six runs (three homers) off of him in five innings.

The Yankees need a solid start from Tanaka because the Astros starter, Dallas Keuchel, has had a Cy Young caliber campaign. Keuchel, who finished the regular season with 20 wins and an outstanding 2.48 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 216 strikeouts, dominated the Yankees in his two starts against them during the season. In two starts against the Bronx Bombers, he did not allow a run in 16 innings while striking out 19 batters.

Keuchel throws a sinker (90 mph), slider (80 mph), change (80 mph), cutter (87 mph) and a four-seam fastball (90 mph). He can command all of his pitches for strikes, which makes him hard to hit. Keuchel is coming into tonight’s start with momentum as he gave up four runs combined in his previous three starts and on September 27 he allowed one run in seven innings while recording 10 strikeouts. That was the fifth time this season that he struck out 10 or more batters.

However, one advantage that the Yankees could have against Keuchel is that he will be pitching on short rest for the first time in tonight’s game. Also, Keuchel and all of the Astros position players except Carlos Gomez, Jed Lowrie and Colby Rasmus will be playing in the postseason for the first time.

“I play with a chip on my shoulder,” Keuchel said Monday at Yankee Stadium. “I think a lot of the guys do in there as well. And we’ll always carry that.”

The Yankees will need the same kind of offensive production from rookies Rob Refnsyder and Greg Bird that they received during the last few weeks of the season. In Bird’s last 13 games of the season, he had 14 hits in 48 at-bats (.292) with three doubles, four homers, eight runs scored and 10 RBIs. That is very good production from a rookie who is playing in place of the injured Mark Teixeira.

In Refsnyder’s eight starts at second base in the last 11 games of the season, he had 11 hits in 28 at-bats (.393) with three doubles, one homer and three RBIs. He has had the majority of his starts against lefties and has hit them very well.

The Astros, who were 53-28 at home this season, were only 33-48 in away games. That has to do with Houston being a young team. Keuchel has also been much better at Minute Maid Park than in away games this season since he had a 1.46 ERA at home and a much higher 3.77 ERA away from Houston. Keuchel pitching on short rest and the game being at Yankee Stadium could be factors in this wild card game.

Here is the roster that the Yankees will use for tonight’s game against Houston:

Pitchers:

Dellin Betances

Bryan Mitchell

Andrew Miller

Ivan Nova

James Pazos

Luis Severino

Masahiro Tanaka

Adam Warren

Justin Wilson

Catchers: 

Brian McCann

John Ryan Murphy

Gary Sanchez

Infielders:

Greg Bird

Dustin Ackley

Didi Gregorius

Chase Headley

Rob Refsnyder

Brendan Ryan

Alex Rodriguez

Outfielders:

Carlos Beltran

Jacoby Ellsbury

Brett Gardner

Slade Heathcott

Rico Noel

Chris Young

The Yankees will play a double header today in Baltimore after Friday’s game was rained out

Ivan Nova.

Ivan Nova.

After clinching a spot in the wild card game on Thursday against the Red Sox and having their game against the Orioles rained out on Friday, the Yankees will play a double header in Baltimore today. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium and with the win they snapped their two-year postseason drought. The Yankees also won their 10,000th game in franchise history after previously losing three games in a row.

The Yankees were an underdog coming into the season since some predicted them to finish in last place, which makes this postseason appearance especially meaningful.

“This was really rewarding because I’ve had a chance to be on a lot of teams that have made the postseason fortunately and this one was probably as much of a grind as any one,” Joe Girardi said. “This one, there was probably as much uncertainty even on a daily basis. There were a lot, a lot of moving parts, so I think this was probably as rewarding as any club that I’ve been on that made the playoffs.”

Thursday’s postseason clinching win was made more significant because it was at home and it came over the Red Sox. The Yankees had lost four of their previous six home games and it was great for the players on the team that they were able to get this win in front of their home fans and be able to celebrate in their stadium.

The Yankees currently have a 2.5 game lead over the Houston Astros for the first wild card spot with three games to play, which means that it is almost a guarantee that the wild card game will be played at Yankee Stadium. Houston has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card and the Minnesota Twins are a game behind the Angels. It will be a better matchup for the Yankees if they play the Angels in the wild card game because the Astros ace, Dallas Keuchel, has a 2.48 ERA this season and did not allow a run in his two starts against the Yankees.

Joe Girardi is prioritizing resting his regulars during today’s double header over putting his best players on the field in Game 1 to try to clinch home-field in the wild card game. However, if the Yankees do get a win against the Orioles, who are not playing for anything, they will clinch home-field in the wild card game.

Austin Romine will make his first career start at first base, Jose Pirela will play right field giving Carlos Beltran the game off, John Ryan Murphy will get his second consecutive start at catcher and Brendan Ryan will play shortstop instead of Didi Gregorius.

Murphy gave an epic interview during the Yankees post game celebration on Thursday. He has hit very well for a back-up catcher this season and in his last four games he is 4-13 (.308) with one run scored and one double. It can be hard for back-up catchers to hit for a high average because they usually get inconsistent at-bats.

Rookie Rob Refsnyder has also hit very well recently while getting increased playing time at second. In his six starts during the home-stand, Refsnyder had eight hits in 20 at-bats (.400) with one runs scored, one homer, one steal, two RBIs and two doubles. He will likely get the start in the wild card game, against Keuchel if they play the Astros, based on his performance in those six games.

Girardi announced that Ivan Nova will start today’s game at 12:05 p.m. and that Luis Severino will start the second game, but that could change if the Yankees secure home field advantage before the second game starts. Michael Pineda will get the start on Sunday.

Here is today’s lineup against the Baltimore Orioles, who have a 78-81 record:

Brett Gardner CF
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Chris Young LF
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Jose Pirela RF
Austin Romine 1B
Brendan Ryan SS

Lineup for the third game of the series against the Red Sox

Masahiro Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees (86-71) tonight in Game 3 of their four-game series against the Boston Red Sox (77-80). In three starts against the Red Sox this year, Tanaka has gone 3-0 and held Boston to a .234 average. However, Tanaka will look for better results tonight since he has allowed four, three and three runs in his starts this season against Boston.

Tanaka is currently lined up to start the wild card game for the Yankees. He is the logical choice because he has allowed three runs combined in his last three starts while not giving up more than two runs in any of them and besides Luis Severino is the most reliable pitcher in the rotation right now. He held the powerful Blue Jays lineup to zero runs in seven innings on September 13, which proves that he is capable of shutting down the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees have a three-game lead with five games left to play for the right to have home field in the wild card game. The Angels are currently in sole possession of the second wild card spot and the Astros are half a game behind. The Twins are only half a game behind the Astros after their win today over the Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota would be the best matchup for the Yankees in the one-game playoff.

If the Angels stay in second that would be better for the Yankees because they have really struggled against Houston’s ace Dallas Keuchel this season. However, if they are going to keep the top spot and win the wild card game their offense will have to improve. The Yankees have gone 3-4 in their last seven games and have averaged only 2.57 runs per game. They have scored less than three runs in four of those games.

One player who has been hitting very well recently has been Jacoby Ellsbury. In Ellsbury’s last 13 games, he has a .347 average (17-49), a .429 slugging percentage, three steals, four doubles and eight runs scored. The Yankees need him to continue to hit well at the top of the lineup.

The Yankees can clinch a wild card spot if they win tonight and if they get help from the teams below them. The Yankees will also have won their 10,000th game in franchise history with a victory tonight over their rivals. Wade Miley, who has a high 4.39 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, will take the mound for the Red Sox and he allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in his last start.

The lineup that the Joe Girardi is sending out tonight is the one that will likely be on the field for the wild card game if a lefty is pitching. Rob Refsnyder is getting another start at second against a lefty and he has a .417 average (5-12) in his four starts against lefties this month. Here is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Chris Young LF
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

The Yankees were 0-7 with runners in scoring position in their loss to the Red Sox

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees, who remained at 9,999 wins in franchise history after last night’s game against the Red Sox, lost a 5-1 game to the Boston Red Sox in the first game of their series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are 3.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the first wild-card spot with six games left to play, and their playoff probability is currently 99.9 percent.

The Yankees trail the Toronto Blue Jays by five games, and the reason the Yankees will not win the division is that since the start of play on July 29th, the Blue Jays are 41-14 and have a run differential of an outstanding +129.

Offense is key for any team to win games and the Yankees offense struggled for the fifth time in their last six games. They have now scored three runs or less in five of their last six games and have scored two runs or less in four of those games. They are 3-3 in those six games.

“You’re going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Right now we feel like we are battling. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to put good innings together,” Carlos Beltran said. “Today was a day where we faced a guy who was pitching well.”

The Yankees were 0-7 with runners in scoring position, which makes it hard to win a game. Their only run came off of an Alex Rodriguez sacrifice fly that scored Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. Greg Bird struck out with runners on first and second to end the first inning, Brett Gardner flied out to right with Rob Refsnyder on second to end the fourth inning and Gardner struck out on a 94 mph fastball with Refsnyder on second and John Ryan Murphy on third to end the game.

The one positive offensively was that Refsnyder was 1-4 and now has one or more hits in every game that he has started this month (four). He has recently been playing second against lefties and Dustin Ackley has been the second baseman against righties. Refsnyder has five hits in his last 13 at-bats (.385) with one double, which is a sign that he is showing his skills on offense.

“I think we need to do a better job against left handers,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s something we need to do a better job at. We struggled offensively this weekend against lefties. It’s is a kid that has swung well against left handers in the past (Refsnyder).”

Ivan Nova allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings pitched, but looked about as good as he has this season in the first five innings of the game. He did not allow a run before the sixth inning and only allowed three hits in that span. However, Nova was yet another Yankee pitcher whose effectiveness got worse in the sixth inning.

Nova had a good breaking ball but the homers off of him came on fastballs that didn’t sink. Travis Shaw blasted a homer to right that drove in Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a homer just above the Canon sign in left field that bounced back into the field in the seventh inning.

After taking Nova out of the game after the seventh inning, Girardi used five relief pitchers to get the final six outs of the game. After recording the first two outs of the ninth, Caleb Cathem gave up a solo homer to Deven Marrero, which was Marrero’s first career round tripper. Fellow rookie Nick Rumbelow got Dustin Pedroia to ground out to Didi Gregorius at shortstop to end the top of the ninth.

Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday night and will try to make sure the Yankees don’t lose any ground to the Astros. Pineda only allowed one run in six innings and struck out six in his previous start and in his last two starts combined he has pitched 11.1 innings, allowed only one run, recorded 10 strikeouts and only one walk.

Masahiro Tanaka is on track to pitch the wild card game, but either Tanaka or Luis Severino should pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series if the Yankees win the one-game playoff.

Adam Warren, Chase Headley and A-Rod led the Yankees to a 2-1 win over the White Sox

Adam Warren.

Adam Warren.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox in a nail-bitter, 2-1, as Alex Rodriguez’s RBI double in the sixth inning that scored Chase Headley ended up being the game-winning run for the home team.

Adam Warren only allowed one run on three hits and three walks in his six innings pitched while helping the Yankees get one win closer to clinching a playoff berth. He only needed 88 pitches to get through his six innings, got an inning ending double play in the first and retired the side in order in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings.

The only run that Warren allowed was a single to right field by Jose Abreu that scored Adam Eaton in the first inning. The White Sox were 0-2 in their other at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees are currently four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East with eight games left in the season, which means that the Yankees are virtually assured of playing in the one-game wild card playoff. The Yankees are 4.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the first wild card spot, which means that there is basically a 99 percent chance that they will host the one-game playoff.

It is not known who they will play for the right to advance to the ALDS because the Astros only have a half a game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card spot. The Minnesota Twins still have a slim chance as they are 1.5 games behind the Astros. Minnesota would be the best matchup for the Yankees, but that is not very likely at this point.

The Yankees bullpen could not have been any better as Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined to pitch three innings and not allow any hits. They each pitched one inning and Wilson struck out two while recording his 28th hold, Betances got through the eighth while only having to throw eight pitches and lowering his ERA to an outstanding 1.36 and Miller struck out two to help him pick up his 36th save of the season in his first year as a closer.

“If I go out there and have a clean seventh, Dellin wants to do something better than I did, and the same for Andrew. We feed off each other, and it’s kind of like a brotherhood,” Wilson said. “With Dellin behind me and Andrew behind him, of course it breeds confidence.”

As a result of Wilson’s two strikeouts and Miller’s two strikeouts, the Yankees bullpen has now struck out an AL-record 573 batters, which is two more than the record that the Yankees relievers set last year.

The other run that the Yankees scored also came in the sixth inning when Chase Headley hit a ground rule double to left center to score Jacoby Ellsbury. Earlier in Headley’s at-bat, Ellsbury stole second to allow him to score on that ground rule double.

Luis Severino, who only allowed two runs and three hits in six innings in his previous outing, will get the start during today’s 1:05 p.m. game against the White Sox. He has a very good 3.10 ERA in his nine starts and has only allowed more than two earned runs twice.

Dustin Ackley will get the start at second base after rookie Rob Refsnyder had played the previous three games at second. In those three games, Refsnyder has four hits in eight at-bats with one double. He now has a .273 average in his 22 at-bats this season.

“€œWe’€™ve liked the way he’s swung the bat and defensively he’€™s done a good job, so I’ll continue to give him more opportunities,” Joe Girardi said.